From Cold War to Gray War: Internet Conflict Intensifying  | Voice of America

A former top security adviser to Boris Johnson has revealed that Britain has launched recently a series of covert cyber-based attacks on Russian leaders and their interests to “impose a price greater than one they might have expected” for their cyber-offensive against the West.  

Other allied powers, including the U.S., are doing so, too, say Western intelligence officials in what is becoming a “like-for-like” cyber-conflict with the Kremlin in the so-called the “gray space,” the gap between normal state relations and armed conflict. 

“The fact you don’t see that we use it doesn’t mean we don’t, because we wouldn’t necessarily talk about those things,” said Mark Sedwill, until recently Britain’s top civil servant and national security adviser to Britain’s Boris Johnson. But in an interview with The Times newspaper, Sedwill underscored that Britain is using its cyber-offense capabilities to retaliate for Russian cyberattacks, information warfare and disruption campaigns. 

FILE – A still image taken from video shows Mark Sedwill, the top civil servant at Britain’s Home Office at the time. giving evidence at a Commons Home Affairs Select Committee hearing in London, July 8, 2014.

“We seek to impose a price, usually a price greater than one they might have expected when we believe it is right and necessary,” he said. “We can’t leave the initiative to our adversaries,” he added. 

Britain has had an offensive cyber capability for more than decade and used it against the Islamic State, including targeting the terror group’s low-tech drones in the Iraqi town of Mosul in 2018. But officials rarely discuss how they defend against or carry out hacking attacks — nor have they spelled out what they consider legitimate targets outside a full-scale declared war. 

Last month, Gen. Patrick Sanders, who heads Britain strategic command, raised the veil a little, telling reporters that in theory Britain has the ability to “degrade, disrupt and even destroy critical capabilities and infrastructure of those who would do us harm, ranging from strategic to tactical targets.” The British military…